Before anything, let’s get the obligatory introductions and cyber greetings out of the way. This is my first post on Reviewing the Brew after transferring over from Plushdamentals, my less-salient and coexisting Brewers blog. I began a series titled “Brewers Season Outlook” with the goal of previewing every Brewers player’s 2012 season to-be. Here are the ones already done and here is a tentative schedule for the outlook posts. Now we digress to the beguiling spectacle that is George Kottaras.
The left-handed hitting Kottaras is entering his third season as the Brewers backup catcher, a profound tenure considering the Brewers’ lack of success at finding a reliable second-string backstop over the past decade. In two seasons with Milwaukee, Kottaras has hit .233 with 15 homers and 53 RBI. He backed up Gregg Zaun to begin 2010 until splitting time with then-rookie Jonathan Lucroy after an injury ended Zaun’s season. Lucroy then won the outright starting job in 2011 and remained there, with relative success and growth, throughout the season.
While he has no specialty that separates itself from the rest of his tools, Kottaras’ all-around abilities make him a cogently effective backup to an improving Lucroy. His power at the plate may be most noticeable, however. In 2010, Kottaras sent a no-doubter to right field in spacious Sun Life Stadium…with a broken bat. Neither his bat nor his arm behind the dish stand out, but the 28-year-old’s all-around effectiveness provides the Brewers with a lift. How many backup catchers can also boast that they’ve hit for the cycle? George Kottaras can, for one.
Throughout 2011, Kottaras was Randy Wolf’s “personal catcher”. The two worked together wonderfully to form one of the veteran Wolf’s best seasons of his 13-year career. With the tandem returning in 2012, they can be expected to be paired up again. Throw in a few spot starts to provide relief to Lucroy along with being Wolf’s designated catcher, and Kottaras can be slotted in for around 45-50 starts in 2012, barring any injuries to either catcher.
Kottaras showed improvements at the plate in 2011, raising his average to .252, OBP to .311, and SLG to.459, all career highs. Extreme patience and walks are not of vital importance to Kottaras, as he normally hits in front of the pitcher. The eighth spot in the lineup is expected to be where he finds himself most often. Manager Ron Roenicke has also made use of the Canadian’s left-handed power off the bench (he’s a career .257 hitter as a sub). His contributions to the offense are greatest when coming through with runners in scoring position (RISP), especially as the number eight hitter. In 2011, Kottaras raked .301 with RISP–a number the Brewers would like to see again in 2012.
If pitchers continue to come at Kottaras with the fastball, expect him to make them pay. He has a career 4.0 wFB in his career with the Brewers and has drawn a reputation around Milwaukee as a good fastball hitter. His aggression early on in the count can contribute additional runs from the bottom of the order.
RtB Predictions: .241, 5 HR, 21 RBI, .334 OBP, 1 SB, (unfortunately) no cycles.
Next Season Outlook: IF Taylor Green, 3/2